The One Cosmos Innerview: A Shocking True-to-Wife Story!
LESLIE: Thank you, Will.
WILL: For those O.C. readers who may not know, Leslie is the author of the book From Burned Out To Fired Up: A Woman's Guide to Rekindling the Passion and Meaning In Life and Work. She is also a therapist and a life-transition coach. I encourage everyone to check out Leslie's web page. As a disclaimer, I should let everyone know that Leslie gave me some invaluable professional advice regarding a recent project of mine, so count me as an unabashed Leslie G. fan. Leslie, I'd like to discuss your book and your professional life, but first a few questions about which everyone is probably curious - when and how did you first meet Bob?
LESLIE: Bob and I met in school in 1983, California Graduate School in Westwood, CA -- a private psychology graduate school near UCLA that focuses on those going into private practice as opposed to research or teaching. He was studying for his Ph.D. and I was in the Master's program.
WILL: Are you originally from southern California?
LESLIE: No, I'm from New York -- Forest Hills, Queens then Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. When I met Bob, I had just moved out to Los Angeles from New College in Sarasota, Florida, via Davidson College in North Carolina and auto mechanic school in Pennsylvania. I had done quite a bit of traveling, unlike --
WILL: Wait, could we back up for just a moment? You were in auto mechanic school? You were considering being a car mechanic?
LESLIE: I had no idea what I wanted to do when I fled Davidson College after a little over a year of being the token Yankee. My dad suggested learning about repairing planes. I guess that gave me the idea to investigate fixing cars. But it's hard to say how it all worked out to get my degree from tech school. But I absolutely loved it. After feeling lost and homesick at a very challenging liberal arts program, learning how to fix things and being around non-Ivy League types was just what I needed. I even wrote a manual for my friends' Mustang once I got to New College. Nowadays, it would have been a "Dummies' Guide" sort of thing.
WILL: Well, I had no idea you had that kind of talent. That's impressive and revealing. But okay, so you met Bob in graduate school . . .
LESLIE: We met in group therapy actually.
WILL: Group therapy? Not exactly the White Cliffs of Dover, but...
LESLIE: Well, the school had a good scam going. The two owners ran group therapy sessions that were mandatory for every student for a full year. They were slightly less than professional as group leaders, and if you missed a "class" you had to make it up in a private psychotherapy session ... and pay their full fee for that! It was borderline unethical, but thanks to Dr. Packer, Bob and I met.
WILL: So... was it, you know... love at first sight?
LESLIE: Not unless you think of revulsion being the flip side of the same coin as love.
WILL: (laughing) Yes, please go on...
LESLIE: Well, on the first day of the new term, Bob walked in to group therapy with his earpiece on, listening to a Dodger game on the radio...
WILL: Yeah, he's big on the baseball metaphors...
LESLIE: ... and I thought he was incredibly arrogant that and he was setting himself apart from the group I had already bonded with for one trimester before he strolled in... After group, I went out to dinner with my fiance, Ricardo. He couldn't believe how agitated I was. Poor Ricardo...
WILL: "Ricardo". One doesn't meet a lot of Ricardos . . .
LESLIE: He was my Ricardo. I was his Lucy... I must have bored him to death venting about this new guy in group who I just couldn't stand. I remember doing a lot of -- what's the word for audible, irritated exhaling? I went on for a while about how aggravating the whole group was going to be now that Bob was in it for the next seven months.
WILL: So what happened with you and Ricardo?
LESLIE: He didn't pay enough attention to me. Of course, that's not what I told HIM.
WILL: So splitsville?
LESLIE: Wasn't easy. I suffered from middle-of-the-night panic attacks after I broke up with Ricardo.
LESLIE: Bob was very sympathetic at this time. He gave me his phone number at work -- he worked the graveyard shift at a grocery store so I wouldn't be waking him -- and said I could call if I needed to talk to someone. It sounds like a pickup line as I talk about it now... if you want to pick up a neurotic, panicky 23 year old. But looking back, I can see that this is when I saw the other side of Bob. Isn't that a Dylan album?
WILL: Yeah, it's titled Another Side Of -
LESLIE: I know what it's titled, Will. Anyway, Bob was sensitive, empathic, and genuinely wanted to help --
WILL: ... I think "Chimes of Freedom Flashing" is on it...
LESLIE: -- and I didn't see the potential for romance until a crisis occurred.
WILL: What was that?
LESLIE: My best friend from college had just been killed while bicycling at night after class.
WILL: That's awful.
LESLIE: Mauricio was so unusual. I have never met someone so comfortable with himself. He exuded joy. A good counterpoint for me, exuding angst. Well, Bob and I walked around Westwood for over an hour talking. It really helped. Shortly after that, he invited me to hang out at the beach one evening before he had to work and we talked some more. It was as if his spirit was hidden at first, then he opened up a bit. And finally, I got to experience the real Bob.
WILL: And the Fateful First Date?
LESLIE: Bob invited me to a Big Joe Turner show at a nearby club, Madame Wong's West.
WILL: Yeah, that works.
LESLIE: As soon as we got there and parked, I locked the keys in my car.
WILL: That's something I'd do!
WILL: Bank on it.
LESLIE: Well, I was very impressed that Bob didn't get irritated or think I was a knucklehead. After the show, we sat out by the pool at my aunt's guesthouse where I was living and talked til 2 am? 4 am?
WILL: Definitely an am.
LESLIE: Let's just say It was very magical and I've been hypnotized ever since.
WILL: I think that under questioning, Bob would confess to the same. In fact, I can recall some One Cosmos posts that were Shakespeare sonnet-like in their profession of love and the holiness of the marital union, and I believe your name came up in conjunction with them --
LESLIE: Well, never has a husband put up with a messy house, a lack of homecooked meals, and a wife who needs to sleep late every morning because the puppy and toddler conspire to keep her up off and on every night with more grace and kindness...
WILL: ... You were going to say?
LESLIE: Well... I am sure Bob didn't know what he was getting into.
WILL: Well, what husband does? Or wife for that matter?
LESLIE: Or parent, now that you mention it. You should know I refer to the time that followed the honeymoon period as the "Taming of the Shrew."
WILL: Just how shrew-ish was Bob?
LESLIE: Will, I'm sure you realized I was referring to myself as the shrew.
(to be con't)